How you can help
The following information explains the role we have in regard to potential emotionally distressed students.
As a faculty or staff member, you are in an excellent position to recognize behavioral changes that characterize the emotionally troubled student. A student's behavior, especially if it is inconsistent with your previous observations, could well constitute a “cry for help.” Your ability to recognize the signs of emotional distress and the courage to acknowledge your concerns to the student are often noted by students as the most significant factor in their successful problem resolution. Faculty referrals are the most commonly noted source of referrals for students coming to the Rockhurst University Counseling Center.
Consulting with the Counseling Center Staff
If you are unsure how to work with a specific student, we encourage you to consult with one of the professional staff in the counseling center. A brief consultation may help to sort out the relevant issues and explore alternative approaches. Conveying your concern to the student and your willingness to help (including referral) is probably the most important thing you can do.
Early intervention is preferable to crisis intervention. Encourage students to seek help in confronting, coping with and resolving personal problems before they develop into major obstacles to their success.
Making a Referral
If you feel that professional counseling might be beneficial, refer the student to the counseling center. Be direct in letting the student know that you believe a counselor may be of help in this situation. Inform the student that the services are strictly confidential and free of charge. Don't force the issue if the student takes a defensive posture - simply restate your concerns and recommendations. An independent decision by the student to seek help is best. If the student is unsure whether they really need professional assistance, encourage them to schedule a single session consultation. This provides the student an opportunity to meet the counselor and discuss how counseling might be beneficial. Often, once the student has initiated the consultation, they are eager to talk.
Facilitating a Referral
There are several ways you can facilitate a referral:
- You can give the student our phone number (4275) and encourage them to schedule an appointment. If there are circumstances that you would like us to know, please call and talk with one of the counselors.
- If you think it is important for the student to be seen in the counseling center, but are unsure if the student will follow through, you can call to make an appointment with the student in your office. After explaining that you have a student who would like to set an appointment, simply give the phone to the student and we will find an available time.
- If the student's situation is life-threatening (to self or others), it is critical that the student or faculty member inform the receptionist and /or counselor. Our staff are available on a “same day” basis to see a student if the situation is life-threatening. If the situation seems urgent or there is a suicide risk, it may be important for you to accompany the student to our office. If at any point you feel unsafe or believe you need additional assistance, call campus security at 4010.
Signs of Distress
-Inability to concentrate
Urgent concerns and immediate intervention
-Suicidal thoughts or plans
-Fear of losing control and possibly harming oneself or others
-When a student's thoughts and/or behaviors are not grounded in reality (delusional or hallucinating). For more help in this area see the section on "Helping a Student in Poor Contact With Reality."